Thursday, September 29, 2005


I believe we are beginning to enter that much-anticipated and much-feared stage of parenthood, where the child realizes that money can be exchanged for goods and services (and any Homer Simpson fan worth his salt knows that money can also be used to buy peanuts. Tell me more). However, our elder offspring has not quite grasped the fact that this money does not come out of a tap or get harvested from a plant.

If you are a new parent, be warned that The Disney store at your local mall utilizes a system known as the Disney Store Marketability of Youth System, known by its more common acronym "DisMaY". These highly complex sensors scan passers-by and immediately register the size, sex, hair color, parental spending limit and mailing address of each and every child that passes within 20 feet of the entryway. The system will then assign a rating and category to each child and proceed with a barrage of marketing in the child's general direction.

Let's use my daughter Natalie as a very simple example. Natalie is 5 years old and a red head. Let's look at some of her favorite things:

Favorite Movie: Little Mermaid
Favorite passtime: Princess dress-up
Favorite dishware: Her Ariel plate, Ariel bowl, and Ariel princess cup
Favorite sound: That "Ah-ah-ah" sound that Ariel makes in the movie when Ursula steals her voice
Favorite toothbrush: Ariel
Favorite toothpaste: Ariel
Favorite pull-ups, underwear, T-shirt....are you sensing a pattern?

How did she get this way? Daddy's influence? I think not. I've spent far, far too many hours demonstrating safe power-tool usage and watching Ask This Old House to head her in that direction. Mommy's influence? Not quite. Mommy is as much a victim as Natalie herself. And how did they become victims?


Okay, so now that Natalie has surrendered to the suggestion that she MUST have everything with a picture of a Disney Princess on it, the Disney Store Catalogs have begun arriving. Can I tell you how many times in the past month I've fended off cries of, "Dad! Look! A Disney Princess Futon cover! We don't have one of those yet!" or "Dad! Look! A Disney Princess Fire Extinguisher! I could use that to put out the fire when you burn my Disney Princess Pop-Tarts again."

We have found that when we explain to her that these things cost money and we need to save money, she tells us that she will pay. How, you might ask? Well, with her credit card, of course. And where did she get that credit card? From her Disney Princess Cash Register, of course.

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